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Chelsea 2 (Chapman 62, Groenen 90) Manchester City 1 (Flint 27)
A 90th minute goal from Jackie Groenen gave Chelsea a vital home win, their second in four days, and halted Manchester City's fine recent run.
In a thrilling match of high drama and quality, Chelsea overcame a half time deficit against a very impressive Sky Blues outfit and raised their level of performance to fashion a number of good chances but it seemed that City would claim the point they probably deserved until Groenen burst clear of the defence and rounded Karen Bardsley to slot in the decisive goal.
Manchester City were far quicker out of the blocks with Krystle Johnston twice finding time and space away on the left to fire in shots at Marie Hourihan's goal. The Chelsea keeper made an excellent save from a close range Toni Duggan shot after a corner fizzed low across the area, getting a strong right hand to a low volley and turning the ball away from goal on fifteen minutes.
Chelsea finally tested Bardsley a minute later through a powerful Ji So-Yun drive and Katie Chapman went close from the resulting corner. The match adopted an end to end flavour as both teams sought the breakthrough. The impressive Johnston fired just over whilst Eniola Aluko, played in by Chapman, was denied by Bardsley.
Natasha Flint broke the deadlock in fine style on 27 minutes, picking up a loose ball in the Chelsea half and beating two challenges before measuring a perfect lofted shot over Marie Hourihan.
Bardsley made another good save to push away a Yuki Ogimi shot but there was a long delay after a clash of heads left Steph Houghton badly cut above the eye and groggy. Chelsea Nightingale replaced the England skipper to see the visitors through to the break in front.
Aluko was very lively throughout and her run to the line gave Ogimi a difficult chance beyond the far post as Chelsea started the second half on the front foot. Her next run saw strong penalty claims ignored after seeming to be brought down by Betsy Hassett. Issy Christiansen battled well to fashion a chance from a hesitant moment in the Chelsea rearguard but Hourihan was down well to save.
The equaliser came just after the hour. So-Yun played the ball wide to Ana Borges who found Rachel Williams. A tempting left foot cross was met by Chapman rising well to glance a header wide of Bardsley.
Jill Scott flashed a header narrowly wide after good work on the right by Johnston but the majority of chances now fell to the hosts. Aluko was withdrawn in favour of Groenen after one final run to the line and dangerous low cross. Williams then got clear but saw her effort blocked by the advancing Bardsley, Groenen being unable to keep her follow up shot on target after 78 minutes.
Both sides went for the winner as Duggan and sub Emma Kete tried hard to break down the Blues defence and Scott pushed on menacingly at times. Ogimi was caught offside several times for Chelsea but Groenen managed to break clear after winning a tussle in midfield and bore down centrally on the advancing Bardsley. A quick shift of the ball to her right took her beyond the sprawling keeper and allowed a simple finish earned by her coolness under pressure.
Having opened her Chelsea account last Sunday with two goals under very different circumstances in the rout of London Bees, this was potentially a vital moment in the WSL 1 season, keeping Blues in touch with unbeaten leaders Birmingham City.
Chelsea: Marie Hourihan, Hannah Blundell (sub Anne Meiwald 79mins), Drew Spence, Katie Chapman, Laura Bassett, Emma Wilhelmsson, Yuki Ogimi, Rachel Williams, Eniola Aluko (sub Jackie Groenen 75mins), Ji So-Yun (sub Laura Coombs 90mins), Ana Borges. Subs not used: Cristiane Endler, Danielle Buet, Claire Rafferty, Atlanta Primus.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Abbie McManus, Emma Lipman, Betsy Hassett, Kathleen Radtke, Steph Houghton (sub Chelsea Nightingale 44mins), Krystle Johnston, Jill Scott, Toni Duggan, Natasha Flint (sub Emma Kete 57mins), Issy Christiansen. Subs not used: Alex Brooks, Nicki Harding, Danielle Young, Keira Walsh.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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